Stepford Lives

I’m beginning to feel that when feminism did away with the role of Fifties housewife, it just snuck around the back and rebranded itself as Family Carer.


Fifties housewives were not expected to work for money. They depended on the breadwinner instead. And they worked their socks off round the house with a smile on their face, responsible for everything and with power to change nothing but the family breakfast cereal.

You just have to look at the ads. The fifties housewife was clearly not on this earth to enjoy herself but to make life more comfortable for the rest of the family. Crikey, I’ve seen ads where the housewife was responsible for the B.O. that was preventing her husband’s promotion!

Now have a look at  the life of a family carer. You are expected to earn little or nothing. You are expected to live a life of less fun and more work than anybody else you know. You have no time off or time out.  And you’re expected to keep a smile on your face and know your position while everyone else enjoys their important lives doing important things. (And above all, never ever suggest your life is harder and less fun than others’. After all “We’ve all been in the same boat,” as so many non-carers will tell you. Right. Remind me to swap my week, and my income, and my free time, with yours one week. Just sayin).

And then on top of it you are offered support. How to manage that workload, how to cope with the difficulties of your loved one’s condition, how not to crumble, to be more efficient, to be more professional. Tell me, how much of this support is there  to make carers better carers rather than to make life better for carers ?

A plague on such thinking.

Do you want blood out of a stone? You the state are relying on US the carers to be absolutely-extra-spiffing-superly-excellent, selfless, saintly, drudges. How can you want us to be any better?

All your efforts should be to making carers lives more fun and more easy so that you don’t wear us out too soon.

We deserve it.

(Incidentally, it would be nice if we had names. I’m me, I am, not the Magic Help Fairy. I swear one day I will lose it and sock the next health or social work  professional  who scans me casually and says to nurse/colleague/a.n.other “And is this mum?”

I’m offering a crisp crackling FIVER to the person who comes up with the best response!)



  1. what a thoughtful piece, a different angle that I had not thought about before. Some of the attitudes to female carers is indeed sexist, I get it all the time from my Hubbys family especially his son. You married him get on with it is the attitude I get, not can I help in any way. But when my brother was living with and caring for my Dad during the last days of him having cancer, everyone was worried how will he cope, can we help him , worried about whether he could continue to work etc.

    I get some other pressures from my maternal aunts you worked so hard to build up a career why are you throwing your life away, put him in a care home and walk away.

    I think Male carers have more social pressure to continue in paid work though, which is not right either.

    The whole situation is a big crock of sh*t…


  2. I’m a male carer. My wife is a wheelchair user and my son has dravet syndrome. There are some of us out there. But I do appreciate many men will go into a sort of “home denial”/public fundraiser mode.

    I won’t go on, because I’m aware that this is a “what about da menz” post.


    1. I think you make an excellent point. Because a higher proportion of women are carers, it is assumed that all carers are women.

      In fact I was taking the ‘wives’ business to refer to carers of both genders – it was more the attitude of people to them, if you see what I mean.

      However, I am a woman carer and cannot help but see things through a female perspective. I’d welcome guest posts from male carers to tell it as it is!


  3. Stepford Wife- I used exactly that phrase now I’ve left my frontline social work job to care for my partner who had a stroke. What a waste of the 3 degrees I struggled to get in later life


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